Leinster 21-24 La Rochelle: Champions Cup final – as it happened | Champions Cup

Robert Kitson reports from Stade Vélodrome:

Leo Cullen speaks to BT: “Just gutted for everyone really, involved in the blue team … the blue team are licking their wounds now. It’s fine margins, a couple of defensive sets … it’s probably a story before that, when we got ourselves in that situation. We probably weren’t accurate enough … we didn’t deliver … but that’s a lot of credit to La Rochelle as well, they put us under a lot of pressure, and hats off to them. But it’s very tough, it’s very, very tough.

“Credit to them, it’s fine, fine margins … there’s probably moments leading into that last 15 when we could have been a little bit better.

“La Rochelle came with a plan to knock us out of our stride … we started the game well … we allowed them too much access to our end, particularly in the second half. You’ve got to give them credit it, they stuck at it to the very end.”

Well said.

More Ronan O’Gara, this time from BT Sport: “I knew defensively, the way we’d set up, we wouldn’t let the play … we did a lot of homework and the Connacht and Leicester games gave me a lot of ammunition to work with … if you stand off them it’s going to be like the Aviva [a home game for Leinster]. We’ve got to be proud of the way we defended … do you know, there was great heart. At 18-10 we could have rolled over … this is the start of something special, I hope.

“It went down to a one-point game … the scrum was very good … The discipline near the end, if you lose that … the quickest way to the try-line is straight.”

He takes a break from the interview as his players come and spray him with champagne and bundle into him.

On the forward effort: “When you’re trying to dissect it live it’s hard because I see it as a No 10 … but we thought we’d have an advantage [up front] … for us, it’s hard, people don’t get the 23-man game … we knew Leinster are usually out of sight at half-time … the boys were sunk at half-time but I was like: What’s your problem? The data shows we score most of our tries in the last 20.

“It feels a little bit surreal. It was such a tense game. 10 months ago we went to Racing and got beaten 49-0 … There was infighting, it was carnage.”

“Retiére is an average nine and an average wing but he’s a brilliant rugby player without a position … it helps that he’s four and a half foot.”

Shaun Edwards, on pundit duty for Channel 4, was marvelling (like the rest of us) at the quality of that match: “It had aggression and misplaced aggression,” he said. Which of course he meant as a compliment.

The victorious Ronan O’Gara is asked on Channel 4 what this means to him: “I don’t think you’ve any idea. Where we started was a long way away from dreaming of getting to finals … I’ve got to thank those boys … it was easy to keel over and lose today, but that’s not us. We have a little bit of balls about us. We found a way to win. Was it pretty? No. Mentally, this is the start of a good journey for this team.

“This team was second division eight years ago. Now we are playing with the big boys, and why not, why not us? … They are all warriors. That’s potentially the first time Leinster haven’t scored a try in a knockout game. The defence was everything.

On the fans: “You’d take this all day long.”

He smiles and walks away. A job well done.

Snap match report here: